Springfield Summer Arts Festival shows weather the heat

People crowded into Veterans Park on Thursday to catch the first of 31 acts and attractions that make up the 56th annual Summer Arts Festival.

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People crowded into Veterans Park on Thursday to catch the first of 31 acts and attractions that make up the 56th annual Summer Arts Festival.

Springfield Summer Arts Festival goers may endure temperatures in the upper 90s with the heat index even higher for this week’s Broadway in the Park production of the musical “Pippin” at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

While the hot weather will be a test for some audience members and the cast and crew of “Pippin,” Springfield Arts Council executive director and show director said it comes with a seasonal event.

“Every year we have high temperatures in the 90s, so it’s not unusual. It is summer,” he said in the park on Monday evening as a storm passed through waiting to do a full show rehearsal.

Rowe, who has worked for the Arts Council for 22 years and been involved in shows here since 1972, recalls a kids show about eight years ago where the temperature reached more than 100 degrees. The production rented large fans to cool things, but their sound drowned out the cast.

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Another year saw a production of the musical “42nd Street,” which is set in winter in New York City and the cast had winter clothing on amid the sweltering temperatures. The fire department even had to hose down the lawn in front of the stage to hydrate it after it startd turning brown.

Rowe said Arts Council personnel monitor weather closely on show days and do the best they can to inform the potential audience on conditions through social media, which can be difficult as it can change from hour to hour.

Some shows go on during rain and stopped under certain conditions. Shows cannot be moved to indoor locations for a variety of logistical reasons.

“All we can do is go by the forecast for what is happening at that moment and cross our fingers the weather cooperates,” Rowe said.

Crew members removed water from the amphitheater stage on Monday as the cast did a full-dress rehearsal, having to go in their street shoes to accommodate for the conditions.

Rowe suggested those attending the shows stay hydrated. Park concession stands stock water and various soft drinks as well as food items, and sunscreen is also suggested, although the sun begins going down by showtime.

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Rowe was satisfied with the first week of the 2022 festival. A crowd of 4,500 attended The McCartney Years opener on June 9, followed by 8,500 for Journey tribute Resurrection on June 10 and 5,000 for Elton John tribute Elton Rohn on Saturday.

“I’m not sure if it is because the situation we were in the past two years is different and people want to get back out to see free shows, but we’re glad to see them back,” he said.

Another pleasant factor is attendees appear to be digging deeper in their pockets for donations to help support the festival, which has been admission-free since its beginning in 1967.

For more information on the festival, go to www.springfieldartscouncil.org/.

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